Greyhounds make such wonderful animal companions: They’re often referred to as “couch potatoes” due to their laid-back style, and these nonaggressive, gentle animals require minimal grooming. So what better time to consider bringing a greyhound into your home than in April, National Greyhound Adoption Month?
But even if you’re not ready to add one to your family, there are still plenty of ways you can celebrate and support greyhounds this month. You can:
1. Be an advocate. We all know that the racing of greyhounds is inhumane, with dogs often spending 20 hours a day in tiny cages—and yet the “sport” continues actively in six states. Meanwhile, in five additional states, tracks have closed but legislators have yet to enact a prohibitory statute. Kansas, for one, is working toward reopening a greyhound racing track that closed in 2008, via bill HB 2180! Talk about going backward. If you live in Kansas, call your state senator to denounce the bill, which has been adjourned until April 27.
Internationally, the Australian government allows the export of greyhounds to Macau, China, where racing dogs ultimately live in inhumane conditions and are euthanized if they don’t place third or better after five consecutive races.
Social media is a great place to help. This site shows you how you can use your Facebook and Twitter feeds to help save racing dogs (including this cutie named Brooklyn, who ended up in China). To end greyhound racing in the U.S., sign this Change.org petition.
3. Donate time or supplies to nonprofits that support greyhounds. Whether it’s taking these dogs for walks, fostering, offering meditation or Reiki, or dropping off gifts (such as laundry detergent, pet store gift cards, blankets or flea control), do what you can to assist your local rescue (and their dogs).
Need more inspiration regarding the pure wonderfulness that is greyhounds? Consider this: In addition to J.K. Rowling, Leona Lewis and Tea Leoni are just a few of the many celebrities who’ve adopted a greyhound into their home.
On a parting note, I found these pictures of gorgeous greyhounds online, posted by the people who adore them. Sometimes I wish I could have a greyhound, too!
As residents and cities still try to dig their way out of the blizzard of 2016, which dumped more than three feet of snow on parts of the East Coast last weekend (thanks to winter storm Jonas), heartwarming stories of animals have begun to emerge. Especially in times of crisis and hardship, it seems animals always find a way to crawl into our hearts and help us—either directly (see the story of some powerful horses below!) or indirectly, guiding us to finding our compassion or reminding us there are still reasons to smile in challenging times such as theses. Below, we’ve rounded up six of the most heartful and amazing animal stories from the blizzard of 2016, sure to warm your heart on a cold day:
Piglet saved from freezing in the snow
When Perry Smith noticed a shivering piglet on the side of the road, stuck in the growing piles of snow, he and his 13-year-old son rescued the little guy from certain death. The heroes then nursed him back to health with warm blankets and plenty of healthy snacks at their ski resort hotel room. Wee Wee thrived and has since been placed at an animal sanctuary in Washington State. Here, check out Wee Wee enjoying a banana from his hotel bathtub.
Horses help to plow the streets
When even snowplows aren’t enough, local citizens, including farmers, kind neighbors and even the Amish, pitched in to help clear the roads. In fact, someone took a photo of this Amish man and his two powerful horses working hard to plow the streets in Auburn, Kentucky—and the feel-good snap soon went viral. As reported in this News Democrat Leader article (which also features the photo), the Amish often help out their neighbors when there’s a big snow; one local citizen has even set up a GoFundMe page to help out the local Amish community.
Southampton mayor’s cat returns after getting lost in the blizzard
When animals get lost during a blizzard, we often prepare ourselves for the worst. But luckily for 13-year-old Lilly, a beautiful tuxedo cat belonging to Mayor Mark Epley of Southampton Village, New York, she miraculously made it home safe. The entire community came together via social media to help spread the word and offer support, but as reported in Southampton Patch, she came home safely on her own.
Adorable blizzard puppy videos fill social media
Being snowed in for days on end can be tough for us humans—but for our dogs, it’s just another excuse to play! After animal lovers took to Twitter and Instagram to share pics and videos of their dogs hopping and playing in the snow, Gothamist rounded up the best of the bunch. Click here to see puppies acting like “tiny buffalos,” making snow angels and just having a blast! Kathleen and I especially love this pic: what an impressive “snowdog”!
A quick-thinking Twitter user called @ltrayers captured this amazing video of four deer leaping through the snow-piled streets of Washington, D.C. What beautiful, elegant (and playful) creatures they are!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start your own animal rescue or sanctuary? I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this would be a dream come true. It’s so inspiring to read about others who’ve gone before and turned their ideas for rescues into realities—for instance, Farm Sanctuary, The Gentle Barn, Bat World Sanctuary, Center for Great Apes and The Wild Animal Sanctuary (just to name a few). If starting an animal rescue sounds like your true calling in life, here are four questions to ask before you take the leap:
What kinds of animals do you want to save? There’s a big difference between establishing a small shelter to save a handful of cats and dogs vs. exotic big cats, elephants or horses. Think ahead about what size and type of facility or acreage you’ll need, and if you’ll have access to the resources and space necessary to manage it. Start small in the beginning so you can work out all the kinks and stay on top of what comes—you’ll have the ability to expand later once your rescue takes off.
How comfortable are you with the business side? At the end of the day, a nonprofit is a business just like any other. You’ll need a team of people you trust and critical business skills to ensure success. Yes, you’ll be helping animals—but you’ll also spend your nights and weekends writing a business plan, filling out paperwork to obtain nonprofit status, managing people and zoning issues, fundraising, handling legal issues and more. If you’re sure starting an animal rescue is for you, learn all you can before you launch. You can take an informative workshop on the topic from Best Friends Animal Society, read books such as How to Start and Run a Rescue by Jennifer Williams, and interview the founders of other rescues for their best tips for success.
Is it really viable in the long term? An animal rescue can quickly grow out of control if not managed and funded properly. How will you pay for rent, vet bills and so on? Will you be able to raise money, grow membership and pay salaries in the long term? There are also emotional issues such as burnout and compassion fatigue to deal with, which are real risks for those spending their lives helping homeless and abused animals. It’s a lot to think about, but don’t lost hope: Look around at all the animal rescues that inspire you, and keep in mind that they, too, faced challenges such as these in order to start and grow to where they are today.
What’s your ultimate goal? I’m guessing that your goal is, in general terms, to help animals in need. But sometimes, starting a rescue isn’t the best way to serve those animals. Perhaps your animal rescue idea is already successfully established in your local community, and simply volunteering there might be a better use of your time and resources. Or, instead of a shelter, brainstorm alternative nonprofits you can start to help animals. For instance, my Shelter Animal Reiki Association isn’t an animal rescue, but we do bring Reiki programs into shelters and sanctuaries worldwide—and that work supports hundreds and thousands of animals in a different way.
Do you dream of opening an animal rescue? I’d love to hear about it.
Just when I think I’ve run out of inspiring reading material, a whole new slew of authors comes out with important works of nonfiction I can’t wait to read. Here are a few new releases for animal lovers worth that coveted spot on your nightstand:
1. Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove In this New York Times bestseller, former orca trainer and one of the stars of Blackfish John Hargrove reveals his journey from fulfilling a childhood dream of working at SeaWorld to realizing his life’s work was morally and ethically irresponsible. The book details the lives of cetaceans held captive at SeaWorld and lays out his reasoning for why it’s time we stop treating orcas like circus animals.
My dearest dog lovers, are you looking for something special to read this weekend? Curl up with one (or all) of these truly inspirational books about canine rescue …
Dog Is My Copilot: Rescue Tales of Flying Dogs, Second Chances and the Hero Who Might Live Next Door by Patrick Regan: Learn the heartwarming stories behind 24 real-life rescue missions facilitated through Pilots N Paws, a wonderful organization that pairs death-row dogs (and sometimes cats) with aviators willing to fly the animals thousands of miles to their new home, shelter or foster situation. Also included: more than 100 color photos of the pilots with these special canines in flight. $12.70 at Barnes & Noble
The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant: This well-researched book is for pit bull lovers especially. Though it’s difficult at times to read about the investigation surrounding Vick’s dog-fighting ring, learning the stories of these beautiful dogs—and the heroic men and women who helped to rescue and rehabilitate them and reshape the public’s perceptions of pit bulls—reminds us that even in darkness, there is hope in humanity. $12.08 at Amazon
DogTown: Tales of Rescue, Rehabilitation andRedemption by Stefan Bechtal: You may remember the National Geographic Channel’s show DogTown, filmed at Best Friends Animal Society a few years ago. (Loved it!) This book, a “companion to the hit” show, highlights the stories of 12 sweet dogs at DogTown and their journeys from rescue through rehabilitation. Though sad at times (some of the so-called “unadoptables” came from terrible situations, such as war zones and puppy mills to dog-fighting rings and hoarding situations), thanks to the dedication of the team at Best Friends, these stories reveal dogs now living happier lives. $11.69 at Amazon
Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills by Carol Bradley: In case you’re still not convinced that animals for sale at pet stores should be outlawed, read this. In this book, author Bradley, a newspaper reporter, follows the raid of a horrific puppy mill in Pennsylvania and the subsequent difficulties in making legislative changes (though progress has been made). But this story isn’t just about an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel being rescued; you will see how she rescued her human as well. $13.09 at Amazon
Rescue Ink: Tough Guys on a Mission to Keep Our Animals Safeby Rescue Ink and Denise Flaim: The tough, tattooed bikers behind Rescue Ink are awesome! As revealed in this book, the guys at this Long Island, New York, animal rescue do whatever necessary (“within the means of the law”) to save the lives of all kinds of animals. Included are heartwarming rescue tales of abused and neglected animals, as well as a look at what inspired the various Rescue Ink members to follow this path. Like DogTown above, Rescue Ink is also a companion to a National Geographic Channel show. $13.26 at Amazon
What are your favorite inspirational books for dog lovers?